The Race for State Attorney General will be a Battle

One of the more hotly contested races to keep an eye on this year is once again the battle for State Attorney General.

Not lost on any candidate running for AG:

– The job of New York Attorney General has been national in stature.

– Election to NY Attorney General has been a very successful stepping stone into the Governor’s mansion. Notably Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo. (should the polls end up being accurate)

And adding to the unpredictability of this race is Cuomo's request for a balanced ticket. Regional balance, (Upstate Downstate) ethnic balance, and gender balance.

It’s been quiet so far but the AG race is really starting to heat up.

On the democratic side is again a crowded field. Among the names that are out there:

-Assemblyman Richard Brodsky

-Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice (Photo above)

-State Senator Eric Schneiderman

-Former State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo

-Elizabeth Holtzman.  There's speculation Holtzman may run.  The former congresswoman, one time Brooklyn District Attorney and also City Comptroller

John P. ("Sean") Coffey. Retired Navy Captain and former federal prosecutor

Also throw into the mix on the Republican side, among the names that are being floated, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan. Party enrollment is against him and every other republican in NYS, but Donovan is a rising star in the Republican party.

Two names Donovan will need to remember, Vacco and Pirro.

Donovan is hoping he can repeat the success of the last Republican elected State Attorney General Dennis Vacco—but the flip side to Vacco is Jeanine Pirro. Pirro was Westchester D.A. for 12 years who gained considerable visibility but Cuomo still clobbered her in the AG race four years ago when Cuomo obtained nearly 60 percent of the vote.

This current race reminds me of the same crowded field of talented candidates four years ago on the democratic side. Cuomo, Mark Green,Charlie King, and Sean Patrick Maloney. That basically became a two-man race between Cuomo and Green. It probably will happen this time around.

You can’t sleep on Kathleen Rice. There’s a strong possibility she can galvanize support as the only woman in the race (at this time) and with her record as District Attorney in Nassau County. Rice has also announced the endorsement of EMILY’s list, which supports female, pro-choice candidates. The group traditionally focuses its efforts in federal races, but opted to weigh in on Rice’s behalf. She was also endorsed by the Nassau County Democratic Chairman whose committee comprises a solid chunk of the weighted vote at the state convention.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s and Rice have been mixing it up. Schneiderman’s campaign used data released by the Department of Criminal Justice Services to attack Rice’s record as Nassau D.A, saying crime has increased during her tenure there.

Quoting a spokesman for Schneiderman: “Now, the question is: if DA Rice couldn’t keep crime down as DA, why does she deserve a promotion to Attorney General?”

Brodsky has the backing of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, as well as several other Democratic Assembly members from Manhattan, and the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Dinallo is trying to play up his straw poll victory at the Democratic Rural Conference. I'll never forget covering the Democratic Rural Conference.  It was many years ago in beautiful Ithaca, N.Y.  I traveled there with one of the best friends a person could wish for, and that is a gentleman by the name Jamie McShane.  Jamie is now the communications director for city council speaker Christine Quinn.

With Kathleen Rice running, I thought about the last woman on the democratic side for AG that came very close to winning, and that takes me back to 1994 and Karen Burstein.

In the primary Burstein faced Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, and a former prosecutor by the name of Eliot Spitzer. She won the primary and faced Vacco—a former U.S. Attorney of Buffalo in the general election.

A week before the election, then Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari announced that she was not qualified to serve as attorney general because she is a lesbian. With the combination of Molinari's remarks, a strong national Republican showing, and the win of George Pataki in the governor's race, Vacco narrowly defeated Burstein.

This race for Attorney General in 2010 will be interesting. Sometimes in politics, everything comes down to timing.